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Osmanthus Red

Osmanthus Red by Rebel & Mercury paints osmanthus in broad strokes of magenta, red and gold. While most mainstream osmanthus scents are painted in faint, washed-out watercolours, Nikki Sherritt prefers to paint hers in full-bodied oils that give a thick, almost syrupy texture to this rare absolute.

Osmanthus Red pairs the plum-like and "violet meets blackberry jam" quality of osmanthus, as the perfumer described she perceives it in our previous conversation - with juicy blood orange, and the golden hues of marigold (aka tagetes - pronounce tah-jet), a modest garden flower that keeps hungry caterpillars at bay, and gets little attention if at all from perfumers. Marigold on its own has a slightly citrus opening reminiscent of bitter orange zest; but it is most significant for its overripe Golden Delicious apple-like notes and almost-disturbing green bit of leafy overtones; yet ends with a soft, very natural, herbaceous-sweet grassy, hay-like finish. It's a little like tomato-leaf: you'll either love it or hate it. And who besided Nikki would have imagined that such a strong-minded note will get along so well with the elusive and distinctive osmanthus?
Another prominent note in Osmanthus Red seem to give a nod to the Asian culture from which this plant originates: ginger CO2, which is full-bodied and as golden as could be, almost candy-like. Tuberose gives it an animalic edge, yet with a feminine softness, which leads us to the most alluring, voluptuous amber base, lingering for hours on end. It's honeyed, a tad powdery and very long lasting, as a good amber should be.

This is the Eau de Parfum I'm writing about. It is also made in an oil base. Other sizes are also available from the Rebel & Mercury online shop.

Visit to Ineke's Garden - July 6th

Tobacco flower
Thursday night, after an afternoon in Golden Gate park with Lisa's family (mostly at the famous Japanese Tea Gardens), I went to meet Ineke & Bill for dinner at Zazie's, where we indulged on grilled Mission figs. As we sat down, I could detect a heady floral note, that reminded me a bit of Ineke's Angel's Trumpet accord. Before short, and way before we could decide what to order, I found myself sniffing a world-premiere of not just one but two perfumes that Ineke will be launching this year. The first one is Hothouse Flower, a green and creamy gardenia which you may have heard of, and was available at the Salon. The second was still a secret, otherwise I would have began my praise before any delay. All I will say for now is that it's absolutely lovely!

Fig Salad

It's always been my dream to visit Ineke's garden, which is a source of inspiration to all of her perfumes - and although it was dusk (hence the very poor quality of the photographs, my apologies!) it was very enjoyable and inspiring. The garden is so pretty and well designed (by Ineke) and tended by Bill (who's got the green thumbs). I also got to meet their two adorable dogs, who seem to enjoy the garden as well.

So imagine my delight when smelling the tobacco flower (Nicotiana fragrans - see image above), and discovering all the other lovely flowering plants they collect: Poet's Jasmine
Sweet William (a type of carnation, and the next installation in the Floral Curiosities for Anthropologie), Angel's Trumpet, Osmanthus and Midnight Candy (used in Evenings Edged in Gold), Tobacco Flower (used in Field Notes From Paris), Goldband Lily (Gilded Lily) Honeysuckle, Star Jasmine, Lilac and Heliotrope (appear in After My Own Heart), Magnolia - and, last but not least: inside of Ineke's studio, there was a whole Gardenia bush, which she brought in especially for designing her newest perfume: Hothouse Flower (review of this will follow shortly).


I also was privy to the very new purse-sized atomizers that will be launched by the holidays for "Floral Curiosities" line for Anthropologie. These are beautiful travel-sized interpretation of Ineke's signature bottle, and are encased in a book-shaped box: how very appropriate for Ineke's story-telling style.

Tagets at Ineke's garden
Tagetes (Marigold) was strangely the plant that left the strongest impression on me. It was a full-grown bush, and very fragrant. Leaves and flower smelled alike: fruity, like fresh green apples, dabbed with citrus and almost chocolate-like undertones. Quite luscious, actually. It would make a very unusual theme for a perfume, for whomever dares to take it on.

Mock orange flower
Mock Orange Flower

Angel's Trumpet at Ineke's garden
Datura (Angel's Trumpet), whose accord Ineke replicated and used in her perfume Evenings Edged in Gold, and also the main theme of Angel's Trumpet in the Floral Curiosities collection.

The most precious moment though was smelling the osmanthus, although only very few flowers were in bloom at the time I visited. But it smelled exactly like the incense my friend Noriko brought me back from Japan, which she says is the most dead-on imitation of the real flowers. She was right.

Ineke & Bill
Ineke & Bill at their booth at the 1st Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco, July 8th.

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